Port of Dover declares ‘critical incident’ as A20 closed

The Port of Dover has said it is “deeply frustrated” as coach traffic faces “significant delays”. The port, which has declared a critical incident, said the delays were “due to lengthy French border processes and sheer volume”.

Additional coach bookings taken by ferry operators for Easter have impacted operations, a statement on the port’s website said on Saturday morning. Just before 9am, a spokesman for the port said: “Coach waiting time is still several hours, but tourist cars are getting through OK.”

P&O Ferries also apologised for the wait times for coaches sailing from Dover, while DFDS said it is expecting a busy weekend and advised passengers to allow extra time to complete border and check-in controls.

A statement from the port said: “The Port of Dover is deeply frustrated by last night’s and this morning’s situation and particularly so on behalf of all the ferry operators’ coach passengers who have had to endure such a long wait at the port. Whilst freight and car traffic was processed steadily regardless of the additional challenging weather conditions and high seasonal volumes, coach traffic suffered significant delays due to lengthy French border processes and sheer volume.

“Despite considerable pre-planning with our ferry operators, border agency partners and the Kent Resilience Forum, and the success of similar plans for processing substantial numbers of coaches during the most recent half-term period, the additional coach bookings taken by ferry operators for Easter has impacted operations for the port.”

The port said food and drink has been provided to coach passengers in the queues, adding: “We offer our sincere apologies for the prolonged delays that people have endured and continue to work with all of our partners to get all passengers on their way as quickly as possible.”

A National Highways spokesperson said: “The A20 Roundhill Tunnel in Kent is closed eastbound between the M20 J13 Castle Hill Interchange (A259/A2034) and the A260 Spitfire Interchange near Folkestone. This closure is in place to prevent traffic queueing inside the Roundhill Tunnel following the implementation of Operation TAP for the Port of Dover. TAP has been implemented as a result of significant disruption at the Port.

“Dover TAP is a temporary traffic management system which queues port-bound lorries in the nearside (left) lane of the A20 after the Roundhill Tunnel to prevent Dover becoming congested with traffic and helping to improve its air quality. This ensures that the town is kept free of stationary port-bound traffic when the port is experiencing disruption. A 40mph speed restriction applies to all vehicles approaching Dover from the west via the A20. National Highways have resources in attendance to assist with traffic management.”

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